After a season filled with ups and downs, a 14th straight conference championship and a trip to the Final Four, the Jayhawks fell to the Villanova Wildcats Saturday night in the national semifinal.
KU fans gathered in San Antonio, Allen Fieldhouse, and at watch parties from coast to coast to watch the Jayhawks in the Final Four.
At the Final Four
More than 5,000 Jayhawks started their game day right outside the Alamodome for the pregame party hosted by the KU Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics. The KU band, Spirit Squad and mascots held a pep rally, with food trucks and cash bars nearby.
Back home in Lawrence
Dozens of Lawrence-area bars and restaurants hosted watch parties, but the most popular site for a big KU game remained the same. Thousands of fans flocked to Allen Fieldhouse to watch the game on the video board. Students filled the student section, and threw shredded Kansans into the air for pregame introductions.
Wherever Jayhawks may be
Alumni networks hosted more than 75 watch parties around the country. Many network leaders claimed it was their biggest turnout in years. The Denver Network alone hosted 1,000 Jayhawks at Stoney’s Bar and Grill.
Although we hate to see the season end, the Alumni Association is proud of this team, and we are always proud to be a Jayhawk.
The call came Tuesday and was entirely unexpected:
“We need anthem singers who are music students at each of the Final Four schools. Could you do it?”
Before sophomore voice major Darius Sheppard could fully process this most unexpected opportunity to perform the national anthem at Saturday’s Final Four in San Antonio, he quickly replied, “I’m only 20. I need to ask my parents. Can I email you tonight?”
Sheppard—a tenor who performed a spine-tingling rendition of the national anthem with fellow students from Michigan, Villanova and Loyola-Chicago before the start of Saturday evening’s first game in the packed Alamodome—laughs when he recalls the reply he heard from the NCAA official: “OK, but instead of emailing tonight, can you call back in five minutes?”
Sheppard immediately phoned his parents, and, permission secured, on Wednesday booked his flight and on Thursday arrived in San Antonio, thrilled to represent KU on the biggest stage on collegiate athletics.
“It’s been an amazing week, absolutely incredible,” Sheppard said, shaking his head and smiling broadly. As he returned his attention to the first half of the Michigan-Loyola game, playing out just a few yards from his floor-level seat, Sheppard grinned and shouted over the crowd, “Rock Chalk!”
Allen Fieldhouse doors (north, south, and east entrances) will open Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Fans will be able to watch the Jayhawks’ NCAA Final Four game vs. Villanova on the video board.
Members of the KU pep band and spirit squad will be on hand, with the Rally House store, the Booth Family Hall of Athletics, and concession stands on the first and second levels open for fans.
The event is free and open for all ages, with parking lots available at no charge, including the parking garage adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse and the new KU Central District garage. The Fieldhouse will close immediately following the game.
The game will tip at approximately 7:45 p.m. (40 minutes after the conclusion of the first semifinal game, which tips at 5:09 p.m.)
If the Jayhawks win Saturday, Allen Fieldhouse will be open for Monday night’s NCAA Championship game. The game tips at 8:15 p.m. Doors will open at 7 p.m.
Jayhawks, your wishes have been granted: You can watch the the Final Four with announcers who love the Jayhawks as much as you do.
When KU plays Villanova in the Final Four Saturday night, tune in to TNT to watch the Kansas TeamCast. It will feature familiar faces Dave Armstrong, Scot Pollard and Rob Riggle breaking down the action.
TeamCast presentations are telecasts tailored to the schools participating in the Final Four national semifinals. The concept brings local flavor to the game with additional cameras and team-centric replays, custom halftimes, comprehensive team and player storylines and more.
Armstrong, ’83, will serve as the play-by-play announcer, which he’s done for the Jayhawks since 1993. He’s also served in the same role for multiple professional sports teams.
Pollard, d’97, partners with Armstrong as the color analyst. He’ll provide a unique perspective after a four-year career as a member of the Kansas men’s basketball team. Pollard finished his career in KU’s top 5 in rebounds and blocked shots and spent 12 years in the NBA.
Riggle, c’93, rounds out the team by reporting from the sideline on head coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks. (No word yet on how serious the KU actor and comedian will take his job.)
The regular telecast will be available on TBS, with Villanova’s TeamCast airing on truTV. Tip is expected to be 7:49 p.m. CDT Saturday night, or 40 minutes after the conclusion of the Michigan-Loyola Chicago game which begins at at 5:09 p.m.
If Scot Pollard’s enthusiasm in a video he posted to Facebook is a preview, the trio of Jayhawks are sure to have a fun night—as will we!
Join fellow Jayhawks for a Final Four pregame party hosted by the KU Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics.
The party takes place from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, in the parking lot of Tower of Americas, 736 Cesar E. Chavez Blvd. The parking lot is across the street from the main security entrance for the Alamodome—just look for Super Jay!
Festivities include a pep rally at 3 p.m. featuring the KU band, Spirit Squad and mascots. A beer garden, cash bars, food trucks and a DJ will also be on site. KU merchandise will be available for sale from Rally House.
Entrance to the pregame party is $10 per person. Tickets can be purchased in advance online and picked up during the following times. Tickets can also be purchased in-person.
Marriott River Center, 101 Bowie St.
Thursday, March 29: Noon-6 p.m.
Friday, March 30: 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Saturday, March 31: 8-11 a.m.
Remaining tickets will be sold at the entrance of the pregame party. Pregame party tickets are included in the travel packages for guests traveling with the Williams Education Fund/Kansas Athletics travel groups.
KU Alumni Association members can show their membership card at the KU Alumni table to receive a special members-only gift. Plus, enter to win a Jayhawk print by alumni artist Megh Knappenberger, f’04.
The KU basketball team will hold an open practice on Friday, March 30, from 1-1:50 p.m. at the Alamodome. The semifinal games tip off at 5:09 p.m. CDT with Loyola-Chicago taking on Michigan. The Kansas vs. Villanova game will follow at approximately 7:49 p.m. CDT.
When the KU Men’s Basketball team sent out the call, Jayhawks delivered.
After hours of pandemonium on Massachusetts Street, thousands of students, fans and alumni made the trek to Allen Fieldhouse to welcome the Final Four team home.
Fans were treated to a replay of the Elite Eight game, reliving Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk’s game-tying basket that sent the game to overtime and Malik Newman’s overtime scoring barrage to clinch a trip to San Antonio.
As the seconds ticked away on the replay, the video board transitioned to a highlight package of the game, mixed with fan videos from social media and the party on Mass Street. When the video ended with the Final Four logo, the crowd roared as the Jayhawks walked in.
With Devonte’ Graham leading the team in while holding the regional trophy, Head Coach Bill Self addressed the crowd first, asking the question everyone was thinking: “Did these guys play like men today, or what?”
Graham, Newman, and Mykhailiuk all spoke as well, thanking the fans for their support, and asking fans to continue that support at the final four.
“I hope all y’all can get to San Antonio,” Graham said, “and hopefully we can win two more for y’all. Rock Chalk.”
With a trip to the Final Four on the line, Jayhawk fans came out in full force. More than 70 watch parties around the country brought Jayhawks together in bars and restaurants from Ann Arbor to Washington, D.C. The game lived up to the hype, with KU defeating Duke in an instant classic. Check out some photos of just a few of the watch parties!
The Richmond ’Hawks wave the wheat at Carolina Ale House.
The Boise Jayhawks had a record turnout, with 35+ fans gathering to see the big game.
The Charlotte Jayhawks were deep in enemy territory, but that didn’t stop them from Rock Chalking it up after a big win over the home state’s Blue Devils!
Washington, D.C. fans fill Mackey’s for big games, but an Elite Eight game calls for a full Jayhawk takeover.
The Tampa Jayhawk Alumni Network is ready for the Final Four.
Seattle Jayhawks celebrate KU being Final Four bound!
The San Antonio Jayhawks were hopeful for a KU win, and now they get to welcome Jayhawks from everywhere to their city.
Keep an eye out for information on pep rallies and other festivities in San Antonio, as well as watch parties in a network near you! Visit our ’Hawks ’n Hoops postseason hub for more details.
After two consecutive losses in the Elite Eight, KU basketball fans were thrilled to storm Massachusetts Street in celebration. KU beat Duke 85-81 in overtime and at the sound of the buzzer Jayhawks knew what to do: sprint to Mass Street. Within minutes, fans filled the street and began to commemorate the long-awaited trip to the Final Four.
The 2008 National Championship was memorable for every Jayhawk, but Callie Penzler-Randall may have had the best weekend of anyone. We asked Callie, d’08, g’13, to share the story of how she met her future husband, Jess Randall, c’07, m’12, in San Antonio.
I’m a fourth-generation Jayhawk and always knew I would go to KU. I have been going to KU basketball games since I was about 6 months old. My parents had made a deal with my sister, Clarice, and me: If KU went to the Final Four while we were going to school there, we would all go.
In 2008, I was finishing up my senior year, studying elementary education. My sister was on the Rock Chalk Dance Team and would be traveling with the team to the Final Four. True to their word, my parents took me to San Antonio. We had fun mingling with the fans from the other three teams (UNC, Memphis, and UCLA). The Memphis fans were, by far, the most fun and friendly.
We watched in awe as the Jayhawks crushed Roy’s Tar Heels. The Memphis game wasn’t nearly as comfortable. I could hardly watch those last few minutes of regulation but knew we had it won once we took it to overtime. It was awesome to see my sister run onto the court with the team after the win. We celebrated on the Riverwalk for a bit, but that part is all a blur now. The entire weekend was a blast!
So, the meet cute.
It was the day between the North Carolina stomping and the National Championship game. We knew the Riverwalk would be a total madhouse, so we headed to a Mexican restaurant off the beaten path for dinner. We had just been seated when I saw a group of KU guys walking by on their way out. I noticed one was wearing a fantastic shirt: it had an outline of the state of Kansas with the iconic image of John Brown in the middle. Brown was holding an NCAA trophy instead of the Bible. Around the image of Brown, it said “Kansas: keeping America safe from Missouri since 1854.”
I knew I had to find that shirt, so I pulled the guy aside to ask him where he had gotten it. To my surprise, Jess squatted down between my mom and me to have a chat. His voice was nearly gone because he had screamed so much during the UNC game the night before. In his raspy voice, he told me a friend of his had designed and printed the shirts, but he could try to get one for me if I gave him my phone number. I said I would love that, and he said he’d be sure to give me a call—IF he could also take me out to dinner. I think every jaw at the table fell to the floor. It was a match made in Jayhawk heaven.
A legacy continues
We were married in June, 2012, about two weeks after we both graduated from KU a second time. Baby Jay made an appearance at our wedding. Jess graduated from the School of Medicine and I completed my master’s of education in literacy instruction. We live in Iowa City and have a 3-year-old, Phoebe, and an 18-month-old, Ben. Ben’s middle name is Lawrence; we considered Forrest as well. Jess is in his second year of a pediatric cardiology fellowship at the University of Iowa and we proudly drive around Hawkeye land with Jayhawk stickers on the backs of our cars. Phoebe calls all the Hawkeye statues in Iowa City “Jayhawks,” and we don’t correct her.
NCAA Champion magazine’s winter 2015 edition chronicles Clarkson’s long and prosperous career as a photographer. He made a name for himself by capturing unforgettable moments in just about any sport imaginable. But it seems that given a choice, Clarkson would take his camera skills to the court any day.
“Basketball is so unique in that, unlike football or some other sports, nobody is hidden behind shoulder pads or helmets,” he tells NCAA Champion magazine. “You get to see and experience the emotions of the game. You see it on people’s faces. You see it in their body language. You get all this in addition to the beauty of great athletic prowess and beautiful plays. You see the human element as well. To me, it makes basketball the most interesting of all the sports.”
To read more about Clarkson’s journey as a photojournalist and hear him describe his own favorite moments in NCAA basketball history, click here.
Watch a video of Clarkson recounting how he took one of the most recognizable photographs of his career: